Learning Dutch (NT2) as an expat child can be challenging!

Okay, it is fair to say that English has become the second language of the Netherlands. But many families that have made the move before, will agree that a more than a basic understanding of the Dutch language will enrich your stay in the Netherlands. This particularly applies to children. Maybe your child will attend a school where English is the language of instruction. However, people will speak Dutch everywhere in his or her social environment.

Learning Dutch as a second or even third language – abbreviated as Dutch NT2 – can be challenging for expat children. At Dutch for Children, we have had the privilege to educate many children throughout the years. And although each child’s background and personality are unique, we have identified traps and tricks that usually apply to all children. Let us focus on the most common ones.

Learning Dutch NT2 as expat child

Can you master Dutch well when you go to an international school as an expat child?

The first example is an expat child who is attending an international school. Most international schools only provide Dutch lessons for 1-3 hours a week. These classes often take place in heterogeneous groups of different ages and levels.

In addition, the children at school speak English among themselves. Furthermore is a large part of the teaching in English. At home, one or none of the parents speaks Dutch. Learning a new language requires more education and immersion in that language.

You, as parents, started international education because it was the ‘softest’ transition for your child. Or because you would probably move further internationally. You see the many advantages of international education, but you also want your child to be able to integrate more “into” Dutch life. It might also be nice if there was an opportunity to enroll in Dutch education. You think your child should integrate well.

Unless your child is one of those rare linguistic miracle kids, the programs offered at international schools can rarely guarantee a level that is sufficient for social adaption outside the expat bubble. An expat child needs more hours in class and more immersion in the Dutch language.

English versus Dutch

Can you learn Dutch NT2 as an expat child when entering a Dutch school with no or little knowledge of Dutch?

As a general rule, regular Dutch schools are not equipped to educate non-Dutch speaking children. Should you wish your child to attend such a school, you will usually be recommended to take a transition year in a special language school. Only very few schools accept children to follow its Dutch curriculum without any knowledge of Dutch. If they admit your child, be aware there is enough extra time to assist your child with the Dutch language. The language immersion will be enormous, but that alone is not enough to get your child confident in a short time.

Keep in mind that children attending a language school will not automatically speak Dutch outside the classroom. Even if your child attends a language school, it is crucial to encourage him or her to interact as much as possible with Dutch-speaking children. Sports or other activities are ideal.

Learning Dutch for children from abroad

Can your child learn Dutch before moving to the Netherlands?

The third scenario is that you have not yet moved to the Netherlands and would like your child to start learning the Dutch language. Your child speaks a different language at school and in his everyday life. So what are the options?

First, you have to accept that the learning will not proceed at the same pace as when you would be living in the Netherlands. Nevertheless, your child can start learning Dutch. If you can manage to schedule 2 classes a week and do tasks or homework for one other time in the week, your child will get a pretty good start. Next to offering classes, we always recommend parents to start watching Dutch videos on subjects they like and are suitable for their age.

signals at sea

The reason for Dutch online lessons for expat kids

In all the above-mentioned situations, the Dutch language input is not ideal. Attending international school will give a shortage in classes and social immersion. Attending a transition class or school mostly lacks social Dutch integration, and following a full Dutch curriculum will be very difficult if there are no extra language classes available.

How do you overcome these shortages or caps? Extra immersion in learning Dutch as a second language, actively using the Dutch language, and practicing more.

At Dutch for Children, we offer private online lessons for your child. Lessons are one-on-one and tailor-made to your child’s level and personal interest. We create an intensive but still comfortable learning environment. Dutch for Children only works with licensed teachers. When recruiting, our focus is on the candidates who are the right match in terms of philosophical, professional beliefs, and experiences aligning with our online learning environment.

Dutch for Children is a private Dutch online school that instills a passion for learning and inspires motivation and ownership of the student’s own learning. Incorporating a rigorous Dutch language curriculum and advanced technology, Dutch for Children empowers students to learn Dutch online at their right level of education, pace, and with great enthusiasm.

At Dutch for Children, we have had the privilege to educate many international children throughout the years. We will strive to keep doing so with high-quality teaching and our personal service to international families.

girl who is following online class

Does your expat child want to get more confident in Dutch?

Does your expat child want to get more confident in Dutch to integrate or to be able to enroll in a Dutch school? We can help him with our Dutch online lessons. You can read more information on our website or contact me by email.

Do you need help choosing the right course for your expat child? We can schedule an online meeting (free of charge and obligation) to discuss the possibilities.

I am looking forward to meeting you and your child!
Wendy van Dalen

Ps: The article in Dutch

Wendy van Dalen foto